PORT ALICE—A year ago, Port Hardy’s Load ’em Up came one win short of the championship in the annual Fred Donaldson Memorial Slo-pitch Tournament.
This time, they were one player short, but fill-in Kelly McDonald launched a three-run homer and tourney MVP Mitch Nelson added three RBIs as Load ’em Up downed the Team Miller 10-5 in the A Final of the traditional local Labour Day Weekend tourney.
“We did it for Fred,” said Erin Klatt of Load ’em Up, with a nod to the tournament namesake. Donaldson was a longtime umpire and supporter of local slo-pitch before his death in 2009, and the tourney was named for him the following year.
Load ’em Up jumped to the early lead with two runs each in the first, second and third innings. Team Miller bounced back in the bottom of the third, getting most of its offence for the game in a four-batter span to close within 6-4.
After Cody Diotte reached on an error, Len Miller followed with a two-run homer. Janey Henschke then reached on another error, and it was Ryan Handley’s turn to deposit the ball over the fence for a two-run shot.
But that was all the offence Team Miller could muster until Team Miller pushed across an unearned run in the sixth and Handley ended scoring with a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh inning. Meanwhile, Load ’em Up countered the long-ball with steady, station-to-station offence and solid defence to keep their opponents at bay in a matchup of Port Hardy clubs.
Nelson had three singles and an RBI ground-out, Tony Knighton had three singles with an RBI, Raylene Clair reached three times and scored a run, and Albert Brotchie and McDonald each scored twice.
“We worked hard for that,” infielder Arlene Clair said. “We just played together.”
The team was without Curtis Carmen, who suffered a separated shoulder, but got a capable fill-in in McDonald, who also competed for the Ballerz and claimed C Division MVP honours in that role.
The Ballerz won the C title and the Pecker Heads won the B, giving Port Hardy clubs a sweep of the titles.
Angus Dawson Memorial won the Most Sportsmanlike Team trophy, which comes with free entry into next year’s tourney.
Tournament organizer Jason Roper started the awards ceremony by leading the players in a toast to the memory of Donaldson, then thanked various helpers and sponsors, including Jason and Andrea Holmes, Doug Bondue and the Lions Club, which ran the concession and beer garden.
“I just want to let you know I won’t be running this next year,” said Roper. “Someone else will have to do it.”
“That’s what you said last year!” somebody barked from the crowd.
“Yeah, I know,” Roper replied.
“See you next year,” the man shot back.
“Yeah, I know,” Roper repeated.
Fred Donaldson Memorial Tournament
At Port Alice
1. Load ’em Up; 2. Blue Sox; 3. Fireballers; 4. Woodchuckers. Female MVP: Sterrin Lazarowich, Blue Sox; Male MVP: Mitch Nelson, Load ’em Up; Female Most Sportsmanlike: Leigh Deans, Blue Sox; Male Most Sportsmanlike: Cody Diotte, Blue Sox.
1. Pecker Heads; 2. Generals; 3. Rekkers; 4. The Rez. Female MVP: Jen Nelson, The Rez; Male MVP: Jason Breitkreitz, Pecker Heads; Female MSP: Jen Swift, Pecker Heads; Male MSP: Richard Nelson, The Rez.
1. Ballerz; 2. Canadian Eh’s; 3. Angus Dawson Memorial. Female MVP: Mandy Walkus, Ballerz; Male MVP: Kelly McDonald, Ballerz; Female MSP: Lucille Keiver, Angus Dawson Memorial; Male MSP: George Brussard, Angus Dawson Memorial.
Rekkers d. Canadian Eh’s
Woodchuckers 13, Angus Dawson Memorial 0
The Rez 15, Generals 13
Woodchuckers 21, Ballerz 12
Blue Sox 16, Angus Dawson Memorial 0
Pecker Heads 11, Canadian Eh’s 3
Load ’em Up 17, The Rez 3
Blue Sox 15, Ballerz 2
Fire Ballers 17, Rekkers 8
Load ’em Up 18, Pecker Heads 8
Generals 14, Angus Dawson Memorial 4
Fire Ballers 17, The Rez 3
Woodchuckers 13, Canadian Eh’s 6
Fire Ballers 7, Generals 6
Pecker Heads 15, Ballerz 5
Load ’em Up 17, Angus Dawson Memorial 2
Blue Sox 17, Rekkers 5